We believe that books have the power to build empathy in children, introducing them to new perspectives and ideas. Through stories, children come to understand others’ hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows. We’re committed to offering diverse stories and voices to our readers. Books of Excellence and Notable books are selected annually by a panel of Bright Horizons early childhood experts and represent some of the best new writing in children’s literature.
March 2023 Book of Excellence: Preschool/Kindergarten Prep
Wonder Walkers, Written and Illustrated by Micha Archer
From the author of “Daniel’s Good Day” comes another picture book to love. In “Wonder Walkers,” two siblings explore the natural world, describing it with awe and poetic beauty. Archer’s collage and oil illustrations are luminous.
- Read slowly. During the first reading, simply read the story, pausing to examine each luxurious illustration and linger over the spare but poetic language.
- Make connections. During subsequent readings, point out details your child might have missed or explain unfamiliar words. Make text-to-self connections, e.g., “This house reminds me of Grammy’s house, and look, here are shells just like we found on our vacation.”
Extend the Learning
- Go on a wonder walk. Make wonder walks a regular part of your routine. Stop and observe the shapes of plants and leaves, look under rocks for insects, or find animal shapes in the clouds. Climb a tree, dig in the dirt, or learn the names of the plants and flowers in your yard.
- Make a chart. Charting a particular natural phenomenon builds children’s observational powers and love of nature. For several weeks, track daily weather, the cycle of the moon, time of sunrise/sunset, or other aspects of nature, depending on your child’s interest.
- Don't miss this month's riveting video episode of the Growing Readers Book Club! Become Teacher Nate's co-researchers as you and your child are introduced to high-quality children’s books along with ideas to explore, create, and investigate further!
- Join Teacher Nate as he goes on a wonder walk — then it's your turn. What do you wonder? Watch the video here!
Notable Books: Infant & Toddler
Things I know How to Do, Written and Illustrated by Amy Schwartz
Amy Schwartz brilliantly captures children’s desire to feel mastery and independence with this rollicking, silly story. Young children will instantly relate and want to read this book over and over again.
- Describe the action. As you read the story, describe what’s happening and point out interesting details in the illustrations such as the open cookie jar or the picture on the fridge.
- Read again. Children love to read favorite stories more than once, a process that builds their vocabulary and understanding of stories. Keep this one on a low shelf where your toddler can reach it.
Extend the Learning
- Play copycat. Tiptoe, wiggle, giggle, or imitate other silly actions from the story based on your child’s interest and ability.
- Encourage independence. Describe all the things your child can do, e.g., “Look, you can stop at the stop sign just like we read in the book,” and invite your child to try new challenges such as choosing clothes, putting shoes on, or putting a toy away.
Notable Books: Preschool
Home is in Between, Written by Mitali Perkins; Illustrated by Lavanya Naidu
Everything is different for a young girl and her family who leave their village in India to come to America – new weather, new customs, new traditions, and new friends. Children who have moved or immigrated will relate, while those who haven’t will gain understanding and empathy.
- Build empathy. As you read the story, ask questions and make connections with your child, e.g., “Have you ever felt left out or alone? Have you ever seen another child who might feel that way? I wonder what the best way to help is.”
- Make comparisons. Compare your home and life with the characters in the story. Do you live in a place that’s warm? Or a place that’s cold and snowy? What does your family like to do when you’re home? What foods do you like to eat? As you make these comparisons, point out to your child the many
ways we’re all alike.
- Watch for the blue elephant. Naidu sprinkled images of a blue elephant on almost every page. Count the number of blue elephants in the book.
Extend the Learning
- Try something new. Shanti tried many things – new foods, new sports, new music, etc. Challenge your child to try something new with you.
- Be a peacemaker. Shanti’s name means peacemaker. Talk with your child about what it means to be a peacemaker – someone who wants to understand and include others and who tries to find common ground. Make a commitment to be peacemakers in your home, at school, at work, and when you’re out and about. Help someone who seems to be struggling. Offer a smile or a friendly word.